ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (FILM)

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Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture Cover Spiders are very strange creatures, aren't they? They crawl. They look ugly. They're covered in coarse harsh bristles. Plus they come from Mars and sing songs too. Here, check out Ziggy and his space spiders in this concert movie Directed by: D.A. Pennebaker; and Starring: David Bowie plus one of the Beatles. It was made in 1973 and lasts for a whole 90 minutes.


Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture


THE STORY:
Now as soon as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony twangs its final chord, the musician of the ages -- David Bowie -- plus his Spider's from Mars, all appear on the stage together, primed and ready to give one hell of a shindig. 

Here is their track list from this performance:

  • Hang On to Yourself
  • Ziggy Stardust
  • Watch That Man
  • Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud
  • All the Young Dudes (written by Mott the Hoople)
  • Oh! You Pretty Things
  • Moonage Daydream
  • Changes
  • Space Oddity
  • My Death (originally a French song composed by Brel)
  • Cracked Actor
  • Time
  • The Width of a Circle

At this point of show, David introduces to the live studio audience his spiders. There's Trevor Bolder on bass guitar. Mick Woodmansey on percussion and drums. And finally Mick Ronson on lead guitar and vocals. Let's continue shall we?

  • Let's Spend the Night Together (originally performed by the Rolling Stones)
  • Suffragette City
  • White Light/White Heat (created by Lou Reed for the Velvet Underground)
  • Rock 'n' Roll Suicide

Please note, throughout this full-length feature we also get a glimpse backstage and see David get in and out of his Ziggy-get-up. As well as hear David chat to his wife, Angela Bowie, plus some chap called Ringo too.

Ziggy has now left the building - for good.


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THE REVIEW:
When I was a kid I thought that David Bowie was a f*king fruit. Well, my parents just hated his music, and this adversely effected my own perception of him as well. Honest to God, I just could not understand why this rather waif-like figure looked like my foxy Auntie Penny, and sang like Christopher Walken!

However, one day, whilst in my teens, I bumped into my good mate Mick, and he started to make me see the aforementioned Mister Stardust in a very different way. This is basically how our conversation played out...

MICK: Oi! Nut-Job! I saw something last night that would be right up your alley.
ME: What! Like your girlfriend getting buggered by a goose?
MICK: F*ck off you sarcastic sod. No. I saw this poofer on the DVD, and I thought of you straight away.
ME: But I'm not a fairy! What do you mean?
MICK: It was that David Bowie geezer. He was dressed like your Auntie Penny and sung some bloody weird sh*t.
ME: So why did you think of me if it was weird?
MICK: Well, because you're a poxy weirdo, nut-job. You go for all that artsy-fartsy stuff, don't you? Plus it wasn't that bad. It reminded me of that night me, you, and Trent got smashed out of our faces, and sung Karaoke. Except it was in tune and had better stage lighting.
ME: Nah! I don't think I'd go for it Mick. You know me, I'm a Beatles / Elvis chap myself. Anything too weird and I'd go for a Burton.
MICK: Trust me mate. Some of it was like the Beatles stuff - phycodelic and surreal. I bet you anything that you'd like it!
ME: Alright then. Tell me what this show was called and I try and look it up. But if I buy it and it's sh*t, I'd add the cost to the money you already owe me, OK?
MICK: Sure. Whatever. It's called... errrr... 'S'... hmmm... something.
ME: 'S' something?
MICK: You know, the first word begins with 'S', and the second word is... something else.

David Bowie
OK, so that's what was basically said between me and Mick. So what did I buy? Huh? 'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars'? No. Inadvertently I purchased the musical comedy, 'Spinal Tap', because it was about a seventies rock-band.

Ooops.

Still, strangely enough, this spoof actually got me in the right mindset to watch this concert movie once I eventually got around to buying it. To me, 'Tap' kind of plugged me into the zeitgeist of what David and his Spiders were all about, making me understand on a satirical level that music does not necessarily have to be a solely visceral experience, but a visual and emotional one as well.

David Bowie - Ziggy Art
Here, check out some of these filmic-facts to see what I mean: (1) David Bowie took the enigmatic and theatrical persona of 'Ziggy Stardust' to spearhead two albums he helmed during the early seventies. (2) The director of this piece, D.A. Pennebaker, was asked to come to London to film a few of David's songs on stage. However, when he saw what it was actually going to be, he saw a 'full-length' movie in it straight away. (3) Although musician, Jeff Beck, did take part in this concert. He was edited out of it by his own bequest. (4) This was the last English concert that promoted David Bowie's 'Aladdin Sane' album. Plus it was the 60th gig in a tour of Britain that he started from May 12th 1973 to July 3rd 1973. (5) This concert was performed in the Hammersmith Odeon, London, which is in fact only a bus ride away from where David was born in Brixton. (6) Hardly anybody knew that David would announce that this was going to be his last performance as Ziggy Stardust. In fact, when he said that he would not be performing anymore, most of the newspapers and magazines presumed that he was retiring from the music industry. (6) Donn Alan Pennebaker achieved directorial notoriety when he shot a documentary about Bob Dylan called 'Look Back in Anger'.

OK, so now that I have my introduction to 'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars', plus associated trivia, out of the way with, what do I think about this concert movie? Is it a hit or miss?

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
Well, it's wasn't that bad all in all. Since my teens I have really warmed up to David's 'Space Oddity' phase; and I've come to appreciate it for being a ground breaking piece of work for the ages. One of the things that I really did enjoy about this flick; was the way that the songs and the visuals complemented each other very-very well -- both aspects seemingly feeding off of each other in a stark and foreboding way.

However, to contradict this positive, I would have preferred it if the 'back-stage sections' were more expansive and less muted, so we'd get to discover how David and his associates decided to do what they did.

Nonetheless, overall 'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' is a fairly decent account of David Bowies early musical years, and is a must see for anyone who likes the surreal, the unusual, and -- according to my mate Mick -- is a 'poxy weirdo' too. What do you say about that Mister Stardust?




THE RATING: B